In all my novels, I have heroes and villains and strong plots. In my latest mystery, Whirlwind, Hugh Robicheaux is an unscrupulous, wealthy and powerful, horseman modeled after owners and trainers from a 1980's scandal that rocked the hunter/jumper world. Often, however, my villain is nature as in Anna's Blizzard and Emma's River. Lately, weather/nature have been in the news: earthguakes, floods, drought, fires, and tornadoes have devastating consequences for humans, animals and the economy. Today, here along the East Coast, Hurricane Irene is the villain. People are evacuating by the millions, and I hope they are planning for the safety and care of their animals as well, but I know that in cases of emergencies, that is not always possible. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina left many animals stranded and homeless.
I hope to never have to experience first hand nature at its worst. I am content to research blizzards and floods and turn them into exciting stories full of mystery and mayhem. On a lighter note, nature and weather are villains in my own backyard. I love to garden on a small scale, and this year I have to boast about my peaches. I battled drought, fungus, stink bugs and rot to harvest about 100 perfect peaches that I gave as thank you gifts to friends who have mowed walking paths and helped babysit my dog and 900 delicious but ugly peaches that made yummy jam, cobblers and pies. Okay, compared to Hurricane Irene, this is nothing. But for me it was success.
Drought was also a problem in VA, the lack of rain turning pastures and crops from lush to brown. One commenter on FBook said that hay shortages due to the drought have caused severe problems in Texas for horse and cattle owners. And of course flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers ruined towns and farmland. Here in VA my villains such as horse flies, burrowing bees, Japanese beetles and squash bugs are more like annoying secondary characters. Bots are showing up in irritating numbers, depositing their eggs on my horse's legs, but they are certainly no emergency. I am thankful that my villains so far have been ones that I, a not so brave heroine, can manage. .
I would love to hear from readers who have had to deal with nature/weather-related animal issues--large and small. (After all, all of us who own horses have to deal with bots.) What were the problems? How did you plan? How did you cope?